Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm working on getting the pictures ready...should be posted this weekend!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm home! Out of all the books I took, I managed to read 1.5 of them. I just couldn't take my eyes off the scenery! So much beauty....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This is our last evening in paradise. This trip has been everything I wanted it to be...and much, much more. Each of us experienced Kauai in our own way. The best example is how we do our mornings...Shea and I head down to the beach EARLY in the morning. Shea runs...I study nature, the waves, the sand, the shells, the people...Christy sleeps deliciously late.

It's funny how time after time I've thought, "Chuck would NOT enjoy this." Then I realized...he would appreciate the beauty, but he'd be totally geeked over how much I loved it here...that would be his joy. Kinda like me taking a trip with him to some American-historical site....

Whatever the case, this has been a magical blessing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Christy and Shea were precious at the beach. I tried to get some good pictures of them gleefully riding the waves. They would just grin and giggle...too adorable. They are both sun-goddesses, so I also got some worship poses. We got one of me shunning the sun...alas, it caught up with me. I wore spf 70 and a t-shirt...not to mention a hat! They will come home bronzed and lovely...I will come back a lobster.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A new romance is blossoming...this morning I put on a flirty skirt and my floppy sun hat...wanting to feel feminine and pretty.

The sea can be as gentle as he can be jealous. I stood on the edge of the beach...where the waves could gently kiss my toes. Alas, the sea would come close, but grow timid and retreat before touching my skin. Closer and closer he'd come. He finally grew brave enough to gently touch me. When I did not pull away, he wrapped himself around my ankles...with a full-body hug. I tolerantly accepted the afffection of the sea.

A few times, as I've ventured out, he has tried to rip my wedding ring off my finger...not wanting to share my affections with anyone else. But I held on fiercly, for my heart belongs to Chuck.

Friday, February 22, 2008

And just like that, a boogie-boarding aficionado has been long has this stuff been around? How come I've never done it? How many of my so-called "friends" have known about it and NOT let me in on the secret...boogie boarding may well be the funnest thing I've ever done...EVER. Whoa...that's it. I'm buying a board and heading to the often as possible. I'm hooked. Today was my first time...when Shea and I were able to catch a wave together, we'd ride all the way to the beach where we came to rest on the sand. We'd stay there for an instant...looking and each other and GIGGLING. Then we'd jump up and run right back out to do it again...and again...and again. The only reason we stopped is the other...more in-the-know-looking-people...were stopping. We figured it was for a good we followed suit. Alas, we will try to do it EVERY SINGLE DAY we are here.

Today was our second full day. Our first full day was a dream. Truly, it got to be a bit freakin awesome everything was. A few things before I detail it...first, one of my "goals" for this trip was to recognize God as something other than my savior and redeemer. It seems our relationship is in a bit of a I am not currently in need of "saving" nor "redeeming..." come on, you know what I mean. God stepped in to literally save me and "my life" over and over while Chuck was in the hospital. These past six months, he's redeemed my broken heart. So, I was thinking Hawaii would be a good place to get to know him as creator and artist...and this may well be true. As is often the case with God...he does not let you tell him who he is...he shows up and tells you himself. Sooo, he's been showing me..."I am the giver of all good things...I know exactly what thrills your heart and I've prepared a little something I think you'll like."

Okay, so before I proceed there are some things you may not know about me...perhaps you do...but I think some of them have been buried since childhood...and some are "new" to me. First, from childhood, I've been fascinated by humpback whales. There's something about the sound they make...their comparison to their gentleness. There's something about that contrast that astounds me. Second, I've developed this thing with the moon (as of late.) I keep up with its phases.

Okay, so one. I set my alarm for 7:00 because I wanted to catch the sunrise. Alas, God kissed me on the cheek at 6:45. I opened my eyes to a brilliant pink sky (truly...the window was right by my bed). By the time I got up and went downstairs for coffee...the colors were gone...this was around 6:50. I would have missed it...and I'm weird about some things...missing the sunrise on the anniversary of Chuck's death would have done me in...sweet gift #1.

The morning was lovely...Shea and I found a hammock and climbed in...joking about how many people would think we were a pair. People often assume Shea and I are a couple...because we are affectionate with each other...and really, two sisters can't actually like each other, right? We put on our swimsuits and headed for the cliffs=an overlook...or, uh, cliffs. We were there for about an hour when Shea says, "Jan, I think there are some dolphins jumping out there." Now we knew the humpbacks would be migrating, but I figured it would be hard to see them...or they'd be far out...I just did not expect to be able to see them from such a crazily close distance. But you guessed it...they were not dolphins jumping...they were whales. I almost cried I was so overwhelmed with it. We watched them for over an #2.

Shea and I went driving. What's Christy doing all this time, you might be wondering? I thought I had the gift of sleep...alas, I'm but a rookie. The woman slept ALL DAY and then turned around and slept all night. Yes...she slept almost 24 hours solid...crazy! Okay, so back to driving...the views of the area with ocean that led to a stream...that lead to a mountain...that housed a cave...all #3.

After a full day...I go out on the balcony...lunar freakin eclipse. Really? Really, God? Really? You're really giving me a lunar eclipse on top of everything else? Really? I was all alone, and just sat there in the darkness...watching the moon. I don't know if it was because I was so tired...but the sky started to breathe...truly, I could see the clouds pulsating around the #4.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Odd and ends...I'm packing for Hawaii and am trying to pick WHICH books to pack, which to carry on the plane with me and in what order to proceed. Now, due to some inexplicable reasons, my love affair with "stories" has become a love/hate sorta thing. First of all, I took my greatest passion (literature...words) and made it my career. While that is a fantabulous blessing, and I pinch myself most mornings to make sure I'm not has changed me. I have not been able to "relax" with a book in years. AND in those years, something else has happened. My soul has become very sensitive...sensitive to suffering. Me, a child raised on Stephen King, no longer able to stomach the horror genre that kept me up many a night, breathlessly turning pages. While I am grateful that horror now repulses my spirit...what the heck do I read for FUN and excitement? Then there's the purity issue. I'm single now. The rules for romance have changed...purity of heart and mind are now a major consideration. No books with least not outright SEX...suggested "tension" is welcome, however...Jane Austen style. What's a girl to do?

This is my list...with the help of my dearest Amy, I've decided to read the first page of each one. The page that captures my heart will be carried on the plane with me. The others are riding in cargo. For your curiosity...I'll include the first LINE of each:

1. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler--Maggie and Ira Moran had to go to a funeral in Deer Lick, Pennsylvania.

2. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut--Call me Jonah.

3. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut--All this happened, more or less.

4. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez--It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.

5. Murder on the Leviathan by Boris Akunin--For reasons unknown the household staff were gathered in the pantry, which is located on the ground floor of the mansion to the left of the entrance hall.

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte--There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

7. Big Fish by Daniel Wallace--On one of our last car trips, near the end of my father's life as a man, we stopped by a river, and we took a walk to its banks, where we sat in the shade of an old oak tree.

I know, unlikely I'll make it through all. But come on now, really, can anyone else not get over the opening line for #4??? Whew....

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A few things...first, the goodness of God. Our pastor is doing a series on "What's so good about God?" Today he took a bold and unflinching look at some troubling questions. A BIG one being, "If God is so good, why does he allow pain? Especially when he has the ability to alleviate it...STOP it or at least reverse it? How can a good god stand by and allow atrocities to occur daily...especially to the innocent?" Great question. The answer? No one knows for sure. I will tell you this...I TRUST HIM. I trust in his goodness. I trust that the things that happen can be turned into works of beauty, love and grace...if put in the artist's skillful, tender hands. The verse mentioned in the service, that rings so very true to me, is Isaiah 55: 8-9. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." Humbling yet true. God could explain it to me, but I wouldn't get it...not only would I not get reason he could give would be "good enough" for limited is my understanding.

Here's the deal, God has the big picture. He is always loving, always kind, always good. His motives are pure. Though our circumstances seem hideous and unbearable...and at times ARE hideous and unbearable, he can bring GREAT, GREAT good out of it. We are short-sighted and narrow in "we," I mean ME.

Thinking back to all that happened with Chuck...all the pain and sadness...just LOOK at what God is doing with it. Just LOOK at what he is doing in me...he is changing me, healing me, freeing me in ways that were not possible before experiencing that level of sorrow...of loss...of despair. To have tried with all that was in me only to discover I was not enough...I did not have enough...I could not give enough. Truly, truly "beauty for ashes...gladness for mourning...praise for despair." I am sure many of you have similar stories.

Whew! The second thing I wanted to mention was a practice that has brought me so much healing. Alas, I'm beat. Perhaps another time.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Well here we are. Six months (in a few days) out from Chuck's death. I remember specifically planning this trip to Hawaii and contemplating, "How will I feel in six months?" I am more in awe of God than ever. Typically, I overestimate people...unrealistic expectations of mere mortals. Seems I have unrealistic expectations of God as well...only in reverse.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this level of joy and PEACE, PEACE, PEACE to rule in my heart...not at six months...not in a year...not in a couple of years. I know I mentioned early into this, as the pain was hitting full-force, that faith does not diminish the sustains through the pain. Even though I fought him, throwing punches right and left, God picked me up and carried me (kicking and screaming) through these past few months.

Some of the blessing oh so evident, other than prevailing peace, is that I am starting to mourn my Chuck...the Chuck I built my life with. It's painful, obviously, but it feels sooooooo good to cry over my husband...rather than my "loved one," as he was referred to in the hospital.

Traffic was at a stand-still on Wednesday, and I was trapped in front of Bill Miller on DeZavala. I burst into to tears as it seemed like YESTERDAY...seriously, YESTERDAY that Chuck and I were sitting in the parking lot...he with a po-boy, me with brisket...happily talking and eating. (Eating in the car with the windows down was our love for eating outdoors and Chuck's distain for it...he would drive to a shady spot, park the car, and roll down the windows....) In any case, it felt soooooooo good to have that memory, that pain...not of what happened to him...not of his suffering...but pain over missing the GREAT times.

God is so very, from ashes....

Thursday, February 14, 2008


"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." I John 3:18

Go out and LOVE someone today.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Am I going to let the love we shared destroy and freeze me or let it make me more of who I am?"

This question was posed at my young-widows group. It reminds me of how Chuck helped me become the woman I his love DID help me become ME. He married an ugly duckling (in oh so many ways). His love brought out my beauty.

We often talked about how gracious God had been to us well before we followed bring us through time, space, and circumstance (diabetes, cancer)to meet and to love each adore each other. I am a MUCH better person for having loved Chuck...for having been loved by Chuck. THANK YOU GOD!

As it did in our marriage, our love WILL continue to make me more of who I am.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

And so it has almost been 6 months since Chuck went home. I still dream of him, but most often it is pre-hospital Chuck. I don't necessarily remember my dreams, but when I wake up I know I've been with him...and I feel glad.

Now let's see...I have something big coming up...I can't quite put my finger on it. Oh yes, I'll be going to Hawaii!!! Please pray for a blessed time of healing and fun. I will be joined by two of my faves...Christy and Shea. This opportunity (thank you God) presented itself immediately upon Chuck's death...seriously, walking out of the hospital on the way way to my car. My hope is to relax and be able to take in each moment as it is presented...without too much planning. (Yes, you will all remember I am a plan-junkie). Let's face it, I'll be in paradise...all I'll need to do is walk out the front door of our condo...swimsuit, sunscreen, and glucotabs in hand.

God has been so very, very faithful to me. Even in my wayward path of pain...he has remained constant...singing over me each night...awaking me to new blessings each morning. My cup runneth over.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Nicole sent this from Chuck's memorial service. Over Toast's shoulder you can see a picture of Chuck...

p.s. Check out Nicole's new Lions Camp Blog:

  • Lions Camp Blog
  • Here are some toasts to Toast. Check out his beautiful photographs here:

  • Bug Guide

  • (I cannot get a direct link to his other photo album...sorry. Must do this the old fashioned way. Highlight, copy, and paste:)

    Monday, February 04, 2008

    Alrighty, I've found all of Toast's posts. They are soooo Toast:

    Chuck? Grumpy? Naahhh...
    Hey y'all. I was at Lions Camp, and Amber Ehrlich and Heather Terry told me that you, Chuck, have been in an ICU for several months, or some such.

    Chuck, lemme tell you something: That's too long. The rent for those units is OUTRAGEOUS. They try to keep you happy with good food, and happy-happy joy-joy television programs, but then the bill comes. DUUUUDE. Ouch.

    It sounds like many wonderful people have given you their love. I want to be one of those people, too. May I come visit you? I only ask because I know there is a such thing as "Too-many-visitors" when you're in the hospital.

    My first year at TLC, you and Tod decided to go around camp asking people for what would they walk 500 miles. At the time, I said I would walk 500 miles for a vanilla ice cream on a popsicle stick that's upside down on a road, and melting somewhat. Now, I'm a bit older. I would walk 500 miles for you, Chuck. And I'd eat that ice cream when I got home.

    I hope to see you soon, but if soon's not a good time, that's just fine. I see you in my imagination and prayers daily.


    Yes, you find the best care for Chuck. It seems that you want the BEST people to come in to Chuck's room and care for him. The best care usually involves the best people, right? Doctors, nurses, and staff. Go to wherever those people are.

    If it's in a hustle bustle place, if it's too loud, fine, give him earplugs or something. Line the room with sheets and towels. Get a jambox and play Chuck's favorite music; play some Mozart and Beethoven, like green thumbers do for their plants. I can just imagine Chuck turning green with chlorophyll -- move him next to the window and he'll start converting sunlight into his own energy!

    Right when I woke up this morning, the first words out of my mouth were, "Breathe, Chuck. Breathe! And eat, too, you rascal!"

    Keep the, and have a good leap of, faith!


    Jan, you and Chuck have experienced things most people will never see. It seems to me that you two have gone "up on the mountain" -- close to God in a special way.

    I realize that Chuck's health is the most important thing here. But I feel as though y'all's effect on those of us who listen to your blog has been tremendous. I get the impression that, when we look for you two up on the mountain, we see God close by.

    That's true for me. Thank you.


    What a beaming light you gave, Jan.

    Earlier yesterday, I emailed Ross and Todd and thanked them for telling me how their recent visit was. As I finished the email, a thought hit me, "When I think about Chuck, my memories of him always have funniness in them. But now in Chuck's endurance race, humor seems to be absent." So I finished my email to Ross and Todd with, "Life's tough without a sense of humor."

    Boom! A few hours later, I read that Chuck is being a ham with you -- a sweet honey-baked one at that!

    Thank you for your wonderful news. In addition to praying for healthy lungs, skin mending, and nutrition, I will also pray for humor!


    Hi Jan and Chuck,

    I'm just writing to say I'm thinking about y'all. Regarding Chuck's fever, I harken back to Bill Cosby: "Push him out, shove him out, waaaaaaay out! Push him out, shove him out, waaaaaaay out! Push him out, shove him out, waaaaaaay out!"


    B reathing
    R eally
    E ngenders
    T racheal
    H allelujah!
    E verlastingly


    Tomorrow, I will be thinking of Chuck, you, and Chuck's colon.


    Hey Y'all,

    Thank you for blogging y'all's time in the hospitals. I pray that when we peer out to y'all's horizon, we see you blogging y'all's time recovering at home. I'm glad the wound vac made it with Chuck during the transfer -- it's his grown-up version of a teddy bear!

    Hah, Jan, you twice referred to getting "the scoop." Is this some sort of new surgical tool?

    Doctor: "Scalpel?"
    Nurse: "Scalpel."
    Doctor: "Hemostats?"
    Nurse: "Hemostats."
    Doctor: "Scoop?"
    Nurse: "Scoop."

    OK, I hope the surgery goes wonderfully.


    Toast Vinson said...
    Chuck's superhero costume is nearly complete!

    Toast Vinson said...
    If Chuck keeps that Ensure down, I see a lucrative employment opportunity in his future as Ensure's poster boy!

    Could you imagine, driving through San Antonio and seeing a huge billboard of Chuck smiling whilst holding up a can of Ensure? (and a can of RC Cola behind his back).


    Dear Jan,

    Please continue to say how you feel. You have a load too heavy to carry all the time. And you telling us not to worry over your feeling like a mess... forget about that. I became less worried about you when I saw how courageously honest you're being with God. My perception of you is spelled like this:

    J - a - n

    You are Jan. You are wonderful.


    Toast Vinson said...
    Hey Jan,

    I'm sorry the backward steps have reared their ugly head. That's sad.

    You said Chuck is sick and tired of being sick and tired. There is a Taoist saying which rings true for me, and it may for Chuck, too:

    Only when we are Sick of our Sickness,
    Shall we cease to be Sick.

    I pray for Chuck and for you.


    Toast said...
    Howdy Jan. I will pray God carries you and makes you stronger. When you're ready, give him some help.


    Dear Jan,

    Hello. How are you doing? I hope you are doing well with your life, Chuck, your job, and the rest of the daily incredible challenges you have now. I can't possibly imagine what it must be like juggling being with Chuck and being at work. But I sincerely believe you when you tell us it can become too hard. Maybe God doesn't want you to juggle them. Maybe you should simply hold them close to you, because they're both important to you.

    OK metaphor, how do you become reality? Sorry, I don't know. But I do believe if you listen closely to God, he will tell you how to care for Chuck and work your job -- maybe he'll even teach you how to juggle them!!

    Have you spoken with other people who's spouses have been in the hospital for several months? several years?

    I pray for you two.

    Last week, I volunteered at Lions Camp. It was great. I thought of you and Chuck a lot. I laughed when I'd pass the old PO (now the counselor's lounge), because I remember in 1993(?) I'd sometimes hear Chuck on the loudspeaker in his business voice: "Jan Crawford, please come to the PO. Jan Crawford, please come to the PO." -- even though you weren't there that summer!! Ha ha!

    We camped out on Inspiration, and I definitely thought of y'all two when I was up there, because y'all two are an inspiration.

    I agree with Christy & Co. Be kind to yourself. Jan, you're doing wonderfully. You have lots of love in your life.


    Toast said...

    Toast said...
    "Jan Crawford, please come to the PO. Jan Crawford, please come to the PO."

    Chuck is in heaven, sending his love down to you.


    Toast said...
    Oh boy, Chuck gives us the perfect double-whammy: his ashes are on Inspiration and his urine is on Mr. Manly Man Mountain!


    Toast said...
    Hey Jan,

    How are your blood sugars?


    Toast said...
    A-ha! Wow, thanks for such a specific answer, Jan (to my question about your blood sugars). It sounds like a GOOD answer, too!

    I almost (not quite, but almost) meant it as a rhetorical question. I know there are too many things to "take care of" at this time of your life, and for awhile now I have been wondering how your blood sugars/diet/exercise/health are doing.

    Your blood sugars were/are fine?!?1 Wow, that is commendable. So much so that I missed the 'Shift' key for that exclamation mark up there. Blood sugars affect your present, and your future. I am glad God gives you all three.

    fellow "on-a-new-pump"-er

    Toast said...
    You say you dreamt Chuck was raised from the dead? What happened afterwards? Perhaps when you weren't dream-looking, just to freak people out, he became an earthen covered dancing zombie, a' la Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video?!?

    I can imagine Chuck interpreting his spiritual expressions in his own humorous ways...

    Toast said...

    Wow, what a challenging run! You gave yourself a crucible. Crying, hyperventilating, cramping...

    Welp, I'm glad our Dear Lord did, in fact, "...deliver you from this hell"! When you think back to the run, I hope you can find smiles, laughter, and other important things.

    As you ran, it seems like something held you back while something else(?) simultaneously pushed you on. What were they/it?

    Since you gave yourself new meaning to the word 'exertion', now I hope you're already giving yourself new meaning to the word 'relaxation'. For several weeks. If you're standing, can you sit? If you're sitting, can you lay down?

    I am happy for you Jan.

    Toast Vinson
    Fellow "Where are the Porta-Potties?!?!" pilgrim
    LEGACY...that's what I think of when I think of Toast's passing. We lost our dear friend this past weekend. Still few facts. All we know for sure is that he is with Jesus. Toast was a tireless champion for kids. What a guy.

    We have lost a GREAT man. Though I know Chuck is thrilled to be hanging out with him, the rest of us are saddened. Toast, on the other hand, was such a lover of Christ-for him this is a victory. He has finished his race and we all KNOW he was met with a "Well done good and faithful servant."

    What a delight Toast was! I've read some "snippets" of posts from a blog honoring Toast. My favorites include:

    He often reminded me of the Pied Piper as he would lead the boys around camp!

    He was always filled with such enthusiasm for life.

    He gave everything of himself for the sake of the children he served.

    As you may remember, Toast was a former camper, and long time summer staff member of Texas Lions Camp. Over the years, Toast has continued to volunteer at Texas Lions Camp, and raised money every year for TLC by running in the Houston Marathon.

    To serve children in need is to honor his memory.

    I will be looking through old posts, to locate some of the inspirational writings from the man himself. For now I will leave you with a song that pegs him perfectly:

    Sunday, February 03, 2008

    Now I know why I post so frequently...entirely too much has happened for me to detail all God has done this past week. And brother, has it been a WEEK.

    First, I had a business trip to Florida which went very well. As of late, I've been continually reminded of HOW MUCH I LOVE MY JOB. Truly, it is such a blessing to feel such satisfaction and joy from what I do day to day. Don't get me wrong, there are days of tedium and frustration, but overall I feel fortunate to be getting PAID for reading, writing, and editing materials that revolve around children's literature.

    All week I've felt blessed and fortunate. I was joking that it may simply be that I'm feeling "normal"...and "normal" feels soooooo good. I keep thinking-perhaps I've turned a corner of sorts. AND I keep wondering if I will forever feel delight with each day. Is that one of the outcomes of walking with God through such heartache? For the rest of my life, will I be keenly away of how blessed and fortunate I am?? Is this just a stage? Who knows...whatever the case, I'm deeply appreciative.

    Okay, so we fly home on Wednesday night, and walk into a NEW COMPANY on Thursday. Harcourt Assessment is no more. It's taken about nine months for the sale to go through, but offically Pearson Assessment and Information owns us. Tah dah! So of course, I am a bit overwhelmed with the, new company with tons o' new things to do (new benefits, W4, etc) AND item writer training (my favorite time of year). Boom, boom, boom. I'm exhausted (but feeling oh so blessed).

    All this to say, God IS faithful. In all this waiting...waiting in pain...waiting in loneliness...waiting without dulling the ache...a feeling of such gratitude has blossomed. I am so grateful.